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MDUSD 9-10-12

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, September 10th, 2012 at 6:48 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Strategic Planning input session got underway a bit late.
Board President Sherry Whitmarsh invited public and staff to vote to prioritize items on the draft strategic plan using red dots.
Participants include board candidate Debra Mason, John Parker, a member of the Pleasant Hill Education Commission, a parent, Felicia Stuckey-Smith, Carolyn Patton and Jonathan Roselin.
Whitmarsh said the CAC will have the opportunity to place dots on the draft at its Oct. 2 meeting.
Each person gets 15 dots to place three under each of the five areas of the strategic plan.

Regular meeting has begun

Board unanimously adopted consent agenda

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148 Responses to “MDUSD 9-10-12”

  1. Jim Says:

    @50 — Oh, the silly hijinks at MDUSD — deleting items from the agenda of a public meeting, a week AFTER the meeting was held. Is the Board taking their governance lessons from the Central Party Committee in Beijing? Or do they just think no one will notice as they play hide-and-seek with +$260 million in taxpayer funds?

    Well, if anyone wonders why some of us don’t feel comfortable putting such “officials” in charge of public education, this provides a good example.

  2. Doctor J Says:

    I guess its time for Theresa to do a surprise on site inspection of the Board Minute Book to see if it is being kept according to the Board By-laws — most likely its not, and that would be a good story, since the Board Secretary — Steven Lawrence — is notoriously sloppy and his personal secretary was one of the Gang of Five raises for her “additional duties”. And its probably appropriate for Theresa to request in writing on behalf of the Times, under the Brown Act, a paper copy of each notice, agenda, and supporting documentation be mailed to the Times. I think those letters are good for a whole year. No longer can the electronic versions be relied upon when time after time they are monkeyed with by unknown persons having access to the electronic bulletin board system even though un AB1344 they became office “notices” and required to be kept in tact. It will take a lawsuit to get Rolen to comply.

  3. Doctor J Says:

    Everyone is entitled to request a paper copy of the notices, agendas and supporting documents and here is how to do it right out of the Brown Act — make sure your request is “good for a year”. Might be interesting someday to actually compare the “approved budget” and the agenda items when they say the cost is included in the “approved budget”. I remember one time Byron Richards slipping and saying that “we transfered those funds” from another approved budget item which was not in the approved budget. Anyway here is your reference to Govt Code Section 54954.1 so you can get your “hard copy” of the agenda and supporting documents mailed to you.

    “Any person may request that a copy of the agenda, or a
    copy of all the documents constituting the agenda packet, of any meeting of a legislative body be mailed to that person. If requested, the agenda and documents in the agenda packet shall be made available in appropriate alternative formats to persons with a
    disability, as required by Section 202 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12132), and the federal rules and regulations adopted in implementation thereof. Upon receipt
    of the written request, the legislative body or its designee shall cause the requested materials to be mailed at the time the agenda is posted pursuant to Section 54954.2 and 54956 or upon distribution to
    all, or a majority of all, of the members of a legislative body, whichever occurs first. Any request for mailed copies of agendas or agenda packets shall be valid for the calendar year in which it is filed, and must be renewed following January 1 of each year. The legislative body may establish a fee for mailing the agenda or agenda packet, which fee shall not exceed the cost of providing the service. Failure of the requesting person to receive the agenda or
    agenda packet pursuant to this section shall not constitute grounds for invalidation of the actions of the legislative body taken at the meeting for which the agenda or agenda packet was not received.”

    So when the Agenda is posted on Thursday afternoon, your copies should also be in the mail. Watch the postmark — Monday morning you will likely need to make a phone call to ext 4000 ! Lorene is going to regret that paltry raise she got when Rolen got $27,000. She might be stuffing 100 extra envelopes twice a month because “someone” keeps monkeying with the electronic records.

  4. Doctor J Says:

    Steven Lawrence and Sherry Whitmarsh violate the Brown Act Govt Code 54954.2 (a)(2)when they ignore Cheryl Hansen’s request for an Agenda item. “Furthermore, a member of a legislative body [that would be Cheryl Hansen or any Board member], . . . may provide a
    reference to staff or other resources for factual information, request staff to report back to the body at a subsequent meeting concerning any matter, or take action to direct staff to place a matter of business on a future agenda.”

  5. Doctor J Says:

    3 weeks of school and Lawrence’s busing folly is already a failure. While there may be a few less children receiving bus transport, how many routes have saved ? How much money is being saved at the cost of tiny children walking sometimes 5 miles or more to school across dangerously busy streets ? Rumor has it that Lawrence’s Folly hasn’t even saved the costs of his own raise let along the raises to the BIG5.

  6. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, MDUSD plans to participate in a 2012 Contra Costa Latino Education Summit on Sept. 29 at DVC:

  7. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Heard on police scanner that a substitute teacher in MDUSD is refusing to leave. Didn’t catch which campus. Anyone else heard anything about this?

  8. Anon Says:

    Just got a call from Steve Lawrence, asking for Strategic Plan input so they can finalize the strategic plan in the next board meeting.

    First – Nice planning Steve! Giving parents a whole four days to line up child care.

    Second – Is this Steve’s attempt at polishing up the resume prior to losing his job once the new board is voted in after the November election?

  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is the link to the superintendent’s message:
    He says the board will finalize the plan in October.

  10. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence and Whitmarsh are as phoney as a $3 Bill.

  11. Anon Says:

    Is Steven Lawrence moonlighting as Sherry Whitmarsh’s campaign manager?

  12. Anon Says:

    Ann # 61,

    That has to be the reason this is suddenly on his radar screen.

  13. Doctor J Says:

    Do Steven Lawrence and Sherry Whitmarsh really think a lousy and phoney “Strategic Plan” will make up for disasterously poor API scores ?

  14. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The real question will be whether or not the superintendent and board will make decisions based on the strategic plan after it is adopted. It provides the public with another measure of accountability — in addition to API scores. This is why Trustee Cheryl Hansen said the superintendent’s performance evaluation goals should be directly tied to the district’s strategic plan. The rest of the board, however, did not seem to agree with that.

  15. Anon Says:


    This gala SP event is “drop by the district office” that means we can take our children. It’s 6:00-7:30 allowing a 1-1/2 hour window of time precisely when most families should be eating dinner together. And it’s a few miles from most of our homes. Did they ever consider a “drop by your local high school” event instead?

  16. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, since the board did not discuss this meeting in open session, despite Hansen’s repeated requests that dates be established after the board agreed to hold “community meetings.” Originally, the community meetings were supposed to be out in the community and local high schools had been discussed.
    At the last meeting, Hansen also asked Whitmarsh why there was no board discussion about the process.
    Based on the size of the large sheets of paper, there may not be enough room for the public to place dots next to their favorite goals if there is a large turnout, since they are allowed to place all three dots on one goal under each focus area. Or, perhaps there will be a different process this time. Lawrence’s message did not explain how the “dropin” input session would work. Will there be opportunity for public comment or board discussion? What will happen to the input?

  17. Doctor J Says:

    @#64 Eberhart taunted Hansen during the last Board meeting, by sarcastically asking, “What Strategic Plan ?” Of course Gary, you thwarted the SP by using Sherry as your puppet. Seven months of the proposed SP sitting on the shelf without action, and now suddenly the election looming with Lawrence’s arse in the sling and we see a desperate move by Lawrence. Lawrence knows his career is now doomed and he is walking around Dent with his head between his legs. What Whitmarsh is claiming is a SP, really isn’t, it doesn’t meet the definition of a Strategic Plan. Hansen is right, a properly developed SP should be the basis for all decisions in the district, including the goals for the Supt to accomplish the SP. Steven, your deception for the last two and a half years has caught up to you — I only feel sorry for the embarassment you are causing to your family.

  18. Doctor J Says:

    Disecting Lawrence’s telephone blast, who is “we” ? How can he say what the Board process is when it has not been agreed upon, nor even discussed, by the Board ? It is obviously evidence of a secret plan, violating the Brown Act, in order to support Sherry’s floundering re-election campaign. Why isn’t the District Attorney Peterson investigating this ?

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In an hour, the board candidates will participate in a taped CCTV forum, which I’ll be attending. I’ll let blog readers know if the strategic plan comes up.
    It will be interesting to see if the candidates show up to the input session. Debra Mason and Board President Sherry Whitmarsh were the only ones who attended the last session. Brian Lawrence was out of town and I haven’t had a chance to ask the other candidates why they weren’t there.

  20. Doctor J Says:

    @#69 No wonder Lawrence sent out his voicemail blast — so Sherry could have some “good news” to discuss at the candidate forum. Lets get the emails between Lawrence and all board members in the last 30 days.

  21. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    This is clearly an attempt by Lawrence and Whitmarsh to swing the election.

    Check out the blog from the No On Whitmarsh folks


  22. Doctor J Says:

    I guess that would be Sherry’s campaign “commerical”, eh ?

  23. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Dr. J. @ 72,

    That video is awesome. I laugh out loud every time I am reminded to watch it.

    I wish Mt. Diablo Jester would do another one, but something of that quality takes alot of time I would think.

  24. Doctor J Says:

    Need a good laugh ? Read Sherry’s campaign statement: “I have championed strategic planning . . .” Are you kidding me ? Read and laugh at the rest of her campaign statement. Such a farce and she is getting Lawrence to do her begging. @page 42.

  25. Jim Says:

    @72 — I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this video was made by a student. Some of them understand this district better than many of the adults do. If so, there’s hope for the next generation.

  26. Doctor J Says:

    What happened to Sherry’s job at Chevron ? She now lists herself as a “Business Consultant” in 2012 whereas in 2008 she listed herself on the Campaign Statement as a “Competency Development Consultant” while employed at Chevron. Compare the 2012 and 2008 Candidate Statements.

  27. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The candidates did discuss the strategic plan, as well as Props. 30 and 38 (as well as valuing staff, board relations and pension/healthcare costs).
    Board President Sherry Whitmarsh told me after the forum that the PAC held a strategic plan input session in May.
    Also, she said she supports both Props. 30 and 38. But, according to Robert’s Rules, the president should not make a motion, so she didn’t think it would be appropriate for her to move to endorse Prop. 30. And when no one else made that motion, she wasn’t sure if she would get a second, even if she did make the motion.
    She said she could understand why Trustee Linda Mayo didn’t move to endorse it (since Mayo was pushing to endorse Prop. 38), but was surprised that neither Trustees Cheryl Hansen nor Lynne Dennler moved to endorse Prop. 30.
    Brian Lawrence pointed out that MDUSD may be the only district in the state that endorsed Prop. 38, but failed to endorse Prop. 30.
    Regarding valuing staff, Whitmarsh told me the board voted in closed session on how to handle employees who were on leaves during the 2011-12 school year (specifically referencing Jessica Preciado’s complaint that the district refused to give her the 3 percent bonus in June, even on a pro-rated basis calculated on her actual earnings before she took her leave.)
    When I asked if that vote should have been reported out of closed session, Whitmarsh said she didn’t think so, since it was related to negotiations. But she said she’d try to find out if she could give me the information, saying it was “good news.”

  28. Anon Says:

    TH-What time will the forum be broadcast ?

  29. Doctor J Says:

    Sounds like District Attorney Peterson should investigate Sherry for leaking information out of “closed session”, eh ? BTW, if something is voted as a part of “negotiations” it is not final until an agreement is reached with MDEA and then voted upon in open session. Any vote in closed session must be reported out, even if only generically. As for the alleged PAC strategic plan input session in May, it was not Brown Act noticed and therefore any reliance on such a meeting could invalidate the entire Strategic Plan input since the Parents Advisory Committee is a Board authorized committee.

  30. anon Says:

    Hansen has questioned the status of the strategic plan at almost every board meeting and was ignored and as an annoyance by lawrence and whitmarsh. With November approaching, all of a sudden, Lawrence and Whitmarsh find the strategic plan of utmost importance and in need of attention. With the exception of Hansen, what a bunch of phonies. Voters should no that their vote is more powerful by voting for just ONE candidate, and that candidate SHOULD NOT BE WHITMARSH.

  31. Doctor J Says:

    And Theresa, which Agenda were the “negotiations” listed that Sherry was referencing ? Information or action item ?

  32. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: Forum will be broadcast on Concord TV beginning 9/29, on CCTV beginning Oct. 4 and on Walnut Creek TV beginning Oct. 7. It will also be available on our CCT website (but I’m not sure how soon).
    Dr. J: I don’t know which closed session. But, since Preciado spoke Aug. 27, I would guess it would have been the Sept. 10 closed session.
    Whitmarsh said during the CCTV forum that the board had voted to “pass a resolution” dealing with Preciado’s issue (without naming her or the issue). Since I didn’t recall any such board-approved resolution, I asked Whitmarsh about it afterwards. She didn’t explain what she was talking about in the videotaped forum.

  33. Doctor J Says:

    @TH You caught Sherry in a bold face lie: The Sept 10 audio Sherry says: “discussed negotiations” and does NOT report out any action or vote as required by the Brown Act. “All actions taken and all votes in closed session must be publicly reported orally or in writing within 24 hours (§ 54957.1(b)), and copies of any contracts or settlements approved must be made available promptly (§ 54957.1(b),(c)).”

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Well, it’s possible it was a different closed session, since Preciado has been asking this question for months.

  35. Doctor J Says:

    Show me the minutes where it was reported. Signed, Doubting Thomas.

  36. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Whitmarsh is on tape saying the board voted on a resolution. Now, the district should produce the resolution.

  37. Doctor J Says:

    They are not going to produce it until you ask.

  38. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I have just added a Sept. 20 update to my CAC blog post, in which Lorrie Davis expresses concerns about Superintendent Lawrence’s statement to her that staff will make the decision about clustering, not the board — and that parents will be informed, but will not have input:

  39. The Observer Says:

    @Theresa 77
    Sherry is ignorant of procedure- as usual- because it is possible for the chair to make a motion or even second a motion. The chair doesn’t lose any rights by being the chair. For that matter the chair doesn’t have extra autnority such as censoring agenda items submitted by other board members which Sherry, in her ignorance and arrogance,does regularly.

    In this particular case on Prop. 30 and 38. it’s an open secret that Sherry, Gary, and Linda were slapping MDEA around because MDEA would not endorse Gary or Sherry this election cycle and didn’t endorse Linda two years ago. The three of them worked the vote out ahead of time. Someone has noted before on this thread and suggested that this would be a violation of the Brown Act. Very likely.

    When it comes to manipulation, half truths, innuendo,attempted intimidation and bullying,,and obstruction, Sherry has become Gary on steroids. Her recent foray into pushing the strategic plan through without board discussion or approval of a process is typical. She has actively delayed and derailed any discussion of the strategic plan for over a year and now she wants to say that she was the one who got a strategic plan passed.In point of fact, it has been Trustee Cheryl Hansen who has been pushing it since February 2011 and has tried to have it placed on the agenda for board discussion, planning, and approval. It was even on the list of agenda items several sessions ago that Sherry passed over quickly and concluded that no one was interested in discussing them.

    What is really pathetic is that Sherry never produces anything to back up her assertions. She never produces documents or anything in writing. It’s always “conversation in closed session” or “Greg told me in closed session” or “we talked about it last February”.

    Sherry also doesn’t realize that Gary and Paul left her holding the bag as the fall person when it finally hits the fan in the district and it will hit the fan. Everyone, except Sherry, sees that bus coming and she continues to look the other way.

    Come November the community will elect new leadership on the board. It will be a time for the new board majority to come in a clean the Aegean stables that is now Dent Center.

  40. SR Says:

    Here is an excerpt from the California Department of Education Parent Rights/Procedural Safeguards( part of CA Ed code and Federal Ed Code). The full link is….

    Please note the second sentence….. Parents must CONSENT to any changes in their child’s special education program as defined in the IEP. This INCLUDES supports and services like Transportation.

    Parents have the right:

    “To Consent
    Parents must provide informed, written consent before their child is assessed or provided with any special education services. Parental consent must also be provided before any change in special education services may occur. The district must ensure that parents understand proceedings of the IEP team meeting including arranging for an interpreter for parents with deafness or those whose native language is other than English.

    So sorry, Dr. Lawrence, the manner in which transportation is provided is NOT an administrative decision. It is an IEP TEAM decision.

  41. Anon Says:

    I heard rumors of lots of talk in Dent today about what to do with the parents that put up a fight against this.

    Parents need to unite and be loud, and let the board know WE WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS KIND IF TREATMENT.

  42. Anon Says:

    So, after reading the agenda and hearing the superintendent’s voice mail the idea is that we all meet at Dent Center, meander around for 90 minutes, put round dots on a piece of paper,and go home.We don’t even get stale cookies or tepid coffee. No discussion, no direction, no followup on Monday night.My 7th grade daughter organizes better activities. Maybe Sherry and Steven should ask her how to do this.Here’s my strategic plan: I’m voting for anyone except Sherry and Gary’s twin brother, Brian Lawrence.

  43. Anon Says:

    @89 sr. I have been sayin this all along. Special Ed kids are being picked up at6:30 dropped at school at 7:20 and expected to sit in a mur until school starts at 8:15.
    Transportation is a related service that should be on the IEP therefore they need to hold an IEP to change it. Oh and then there are the kids that are still supposed to have bussing and the bus never shows up.
    From what I understand there was a consent decree about how much time a child can be on a bus? Children are on a bus for an hour or more…..remember these are our most fragile children they are doing this to.
    Can’t wait til Lawrence and Rolen are gone and they can take Patton with them.

  44. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I saw Guy Moore at the Teacher of the Year awards and he said the board and MDEA had signed an MOU that affected about 15 employees — including some who are not MDEA members. The district will pay those who were on leave 3 percent of their earnings on a pro-rated basis, including sick time, he said.

    But, the issue of Preciado’s pay is still unresolved, he said. After the back and forth, it appears that the district charged her the maximum rate for her subs, which is not standard procedure. Moore said it appeared to be retaliatory, because she spoke out. So, MDEA is still in discussions with the district about this, he said.

    By the way, the County Teacher of the Year is Rona Zollinger, who teaches at the Vicente Martinez Continuation School in Martinez. I’ll post a story about the awards dinner tomorrow. There was a big MDUSD contingent present to honor MDUSD Teacher of the Year Mona Lisa Ricard, who teaches at Sequoia Elementary. Congrats to all the district Teachers of the Year!

  45. Anon Says:

    Sorry that was a bit disjointed. I am sooooo p.o. About this!

  46. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Interesting that the emailed message I received from the CAC blog with Davis’ second update has still not been posted on the CAC blog:

    However, Patton’s PowerPoint is there, along with a link to the new “specialized transportation needs assessment form,” which the district will use to decide who is elible for busing.

  47. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Actually, the agenda doesn’t even mention the Strategic Planning input session, so it’s unclear what the process is:
    The agenda says the closed session is at 6 p.m. and the regular meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. It’s surprising there is no written agenda or Superintendent’s Message on the district website about the Strategic Plan meeting.

  48. anon Says:

    @SR #90: good for you for knowing your Parental Rights; transportation IS an IEP team decision. And, it is difficult to feel sympathy for parents of students with IEPs if they don’t attend the CAC meetings and loudly voice that transportation is decided by the IEP team, and NOT by Lawrence and his unethical cronies. AND…there’s a phone number in the Parental Safeguards that parents can call the state and voice their concerns. If your child has an IEP: don’t sign the IEP if you and the IEP team do not agree with the lack of transportation that is being forced on you-that way your child’s transportation will be continue in what is called a “stay put” status, call the state regarding your concerns (using the phone number provided in your Parental Safeguards), and inform other parents that there is a HUGE effort being made by this superintendent to take away transportation from your disabled child.

  49. Anon Says:

    Item 13.2 is a report but there’s no report attachment. Item 15.4 delineates September 2012 meetings with only 6 days remaining in the month. Is this supposed to be funny and am I supposed to be ROFLOL ?

  50. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence is trying to manipulate the IEP process by trying to set up “standards” for bus transportation that are very restrictive and give the district more options than most completed IEP’s do now. Remember the retaliation against the CAC, and Mildred Browne, began on the night of ButtercupGATE in the Spring of 2010 when a parent put down Eberhart publicly — Lawrence, and the present Board members retreated to Buttercup joined by another Board member, and the infamous ButtercupGATE was born. I am still having doubts that Kerri Mills is really coming — I don’t think she “signed” the MDUSD agreement. Theresa, can you ask for a signed copy ?

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